There's nothing like spring in Paris. Songs are written about it, movies are made about it and galleries are full of paintings that showcase the beauty of the season in the French capital. For sports fans, it means watching the French Open on the slow red clay of Roland Garros.
NBC, ESPN2 and Tennis Channel will offer coverage throughout the tournament, which starts Sunday. During a conference call, ESPN analyst Chris Evert -- who has seven French Open titles -- was happy to share her thoughts on this year's tournament.
How has Serena Williams been gearing up for the French Open?
Evert » "She did pull out of a tournament. But as far as her current form, she has beaten the top two women in the world and is currently ranked No. 5, and she is gaining ground on everyone ahead of her. She pulled out of Rome to protect herself for the French. I just have never seen Serena play this well on clay before, and she has never really come back with as much aggressiveness, and I think her fitness level is higher than we have seen it. She's moving better, and she wants the French Open really badly. So I think you're going to see a triangle effect here with [Maria] Sharapova, who has also played some great clay-court tennis, and Victoria Azarenka. And the big question is, can she continue her dominance on the slower surface versus the hard court, which she excelled on the last few months? It's really interesting, and it's a tough one to call now."
How's it different playing on a clay surface?
Evert » "Clay gave me a little more time because it was a little slower in that day. Obviously, the courts or the balls or whatever were slower. Women weren't hitting the ball as hard, obviously, but I had that extra few seconds to get to the ball. Other factors like sliding motion from side to side as well as endurance comes into play since points tend to be longer."
Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Check out his blog, Watch this!